It might sound harsh, but it’s true. Here’s why you should just explain the benefits.
B2B product marketing is an area that I love, and I think I can claim to know well. In my field of experience, industrial automation, there are some amazing things going on – the Industrial Internet of Things, wireless technologies replacing copper wires, the combining of previously discrete machine functions – but to enable these advances you need products that are built into a system.
I love products ( I might have mentioned this before! ) and products have characteristics – size, colour, materials, or quantifiable units such as voltage, current, pressure or speed – and these are the things that many Product Marketers love to focus on.
So much so that days, weeks and months are spent ensuring that the latest product X launched by company Y has the highest set of characteristics, with the view that the life of the sales team will be easier. The customer must buy it as it’s the best on the market!
And that sadly is where the dream ends.
Of course, there are characteristics that ensure a performance level to meet a particular problem, and even some that give some comfort to the customer that they are choosing the right product for their machine, production line or plant. But today this is the exception.
Are you still thinking Features – Advantages- Benefits ?
Back in the last century when I started marketing, the model we always used to describe a value was FAB – Features, Advantages, Benefits. We would describe the feature, what it does and what benefit the customer derives. (There is an interesting blog here about value and what is means)
For example anyone with an old Nokia phone in the early noughties would know that the battery life was measured in months rather than hours, and that this meant the phone always had charge, therefore you could make calls , send an SMS and play Snake for days without the need to recharge.
The result was no groups of people huddling around charge stations and rare power sockets at airports back then! How we’ve progressed in the last 20 years .
“Unless you are making a change in order of magnitude on a characteristic, nobody cares.
So don’t stress. Just explain the benefits you provide.”
The reality today is that B2B customers – designers, engineers, buyers – have neither the time nor the inclination to search out products, check the detailed spec sheets you lovingly created, and work out if they can benefit from using your widget.
They just want to get straight to the benefit, and who can blame them.
I always try to make an analogy with our personal lives as the line between our decision making at home or at work is blurred, or even non existent.
Who decides to buy a mobile phone because the model has a Snapdragon 385 processor running at 2.96 GHz rather than 2.8 GHz ( apologies to Qualcomm product managers everywhere) ?
Who decides to buy one breakfast cereal over the other because the salt content is 0.28g whereas another brand has 0.35g ?
The same applies to B2B customers.
Unless you are making a change in order of magnitude on a characteristic, nobody cares. So don’t stress. Just explain the benefits
“Except in highly specialized markets, the suppliers that are winning today are those that focus on the benefits of their offer”
It sounds easy, but it takes a change of approach for you, for your sales teams, for your communication teams , but it’s essential if you are to gain a competitive advantage. Except perhaps in highly specialized markets, the suppliers that are winning today, and will continue to win in the future, are those that focus on the benefits of their offer and not the bits and pieces that make it work.
So get over it and do something about it, before your competition wakes up too!
Do you agree or have a different view ? Share your thoughts in the comments section.